CUNY requires students and employees to be fully vaccinated for Spring semester, but no need for boosters

The Baruch College campus of CUNY.
Photo via Facebook/CUNY

CUNY students, faculty, and staff must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend spring classes, although they do not have to show that they have got booster shots, CUNY officials recently announced.

The updated COVID-19 policy will permit attendance for individuals who are fully vaccinated, which CUNY defines as having the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer, or the single dose of Johnson & Johnson. Students and faculty with medical and religious exemptions are also permitted to attend.

Booster shots are encouraged, but not required for classes or the residence halls.

Athletes are also not required to have their booster shots, but must be fully vaccinated, unless they have a medical or religious exemption. Masks are not required on campus, including on unvaccinated people, according to CUNY policy.

CUNY’s visitor policy was updated so that visitors no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, according to CCNY’s FAQ page.

During a meeting Thursday, some CUNY faculty and staff expressed some concerns over the school’s updated vaccination requirement, describing it as “Swiss cheese” policy.

Jean Grassman, an associate professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy, said the new COVID-19 policy leaves out stronger health protections, particularly a booster vaccine requirement, that she and other faculty and staff have asked for. 

“Boosters help against the most recent variant,” Grassman said. “They’re still effective and they’re needed. Although we are getting this uncomfortable realization that vaccinations don’t prevent illness, they may reduce severity and prevent death.”

Grassman co-chairs the CUNY Health and Safety Watchdogs Committee with Susan Fountain, a faculty member at CUNY’s School of Professional Studies. The committee is part of the Professional Staff Congress union and watchdogs public health matters across the CUNY system.

As of last week, the CUNY system had a 3 percent positivity rate out of the 3,444 tests conducted, or 104 positive cases. 

For those who are not fully vaccinated, CUNY will permit students to enroll in virtual courses. However, most CUNY courses for the Spring 2023 semester will be in-person only.

Grassman said CUNY is able to update its ventilation in certain buildings — particularly at Bronx Community College and Hunter College — which could put more people at ease. 

“I think people are feeling like there’s not much protection,” Grassman said, adding that many of the old CUNY buildings have poor ventilation and have not been upgraded.

CUNY’s Spring 2023 vaccination requirements are different from the Spring 2022 vaccination policy, which required students to get their vaccine boosters once they were eligible. At that time, CUNY had also lifted its indoor mask mandate, including for unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff.

For more updated information, visit CUNY’s COVID-19 page